Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Big Bill's New Mexico: A Record Low Jobless Rate Vs. Ethics Issues, Plus: Gloria Tristani's New Gig 

Sure, Big Bill's got over $5 million in the bank and, yes, he remains larger than life to many voters. But so does Arnold Schwarzenegger in California and his re-election is no sure thing. It's more than just prestige and charm that gets politicos reelected; it's also how folks are feeling about their personal lot in life. And that's why these statistics are so frightful to the Guv's opposition. The jobless rate in our Enchanted Land has plummeted the past four years. I know, can the Guv really take credit for that? But you and I both know if unemployment was jumping, he would take the blame.

What's startling to longtime observers is that of our 33 counties only one, Luna, has a jobless rate in the double digits, 14.7%. It wasn't that long ago that Mora, Rio Arriba, San Miguel and Taos counties were also in the double digit category. And a state jobless rate at 3.9%? Maybe the unemployed gave up looking, but I doubt it. After a generation of watching double digit rates stubbornly refuse to come down, it's gratifying to see the change, knowing that a lot of our young people are finally finding work in their home state.


A recent Friday night visit to Espnaola in Rio Arriba revealed a bustling scene with cars jammed into the Dreamcatcher Cinema parking lot; the casino in a bowling alley (only In Espanola!) was hopping and the waitresses at Joann's restaurant on the main drag were kept busy by a steady flow of patrons. The area is still beset by major social problems such as drug addiction, but there has been real economic progress there.

We're not giving credit or blame to the Guv for the renewal of the economy reflected in the job stats, or the busy business we witnessed in Espanola, just pointing out that his opponents have major work ahead of them if they are to make the case that the New Mexican economy is stalled out. Even the powerful ethics arguments the R's are going to put forth are going to have some stiff competition for attention when voters have spare change jingling in their pockets. Don't say we didn't tell you.


The grandaughter of the late, legendary NM U.S. Senator Dennis Chavez, Gloria Tristani, has a new gig. She's president of the D.C-based Benton Foundation, a small private foundation that "is committed to articulating a public interest vision for the digital age and demonstrating the value of communications for solving social problems."

If your like Gloria, a former Federal Communications Commissioner, you probably understood what that means better than I do. Tristani raised he liberal Dem flag against Senator Domenici in 2002, but she succumbed to him as have all other previous challenges. Which raises a question. Now that pete has said he will go for yet another term in 08', when he will be 76, who will the Dems field against him. Any names? E-mail them in.

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